Moir Christmas Classic: West Rowan boys 70, Carson 51
By Mike London
West Rowan senior Jason Grant has a nice first step but questionable judgment.
Thanks to an accidental elbow from teammate Chris Smith at Friday’s practice, Grant played with four stitches in his mouth during the Falcons’ 70-51 victory over Carson in a Sam Moir Christmas Classic semifinal.
Smith, who packs a wallop, is an All-State defensive end for the football team as well as West’s starting power forward.
“Well, I tried to step in front of Chris and take a charge,” Grant explained with a laugh. “I’m not sure what I was thinking.”
West coach Mike Gurley wasn’t sure what to think of his top-seeded team’s shooting on Monday. The Falcons couldn’t put the ball in the hole the first 21 minutes. With 2:45 left in the third quarter, West was shooting 19.6 percent from the floor and was fortunate to lead the fifth-seeded Cougars 30-25.
But at that point, West’s deep bench took over. Jordan Kimber hit a 3-pointer, Grant finished a couple of acrobatic drives and Myles Moore knocked down a 3 as the Falcons pushed their lead back to double digits.
“Our bench did a great job, and it’s great to have two seniors like Grant and Moore who are always ready to play,” Gurley said.
West finished with 33.3-percent shooting from the field, but it scored 40 points during the last 11 minutes.
Freshman Keshun Sherrill, who also came off the bench, shot 6-for-9 and scored 19 points to lead the Falcons. West (7-0) got 43 points from reserves.
Darius Moose had 18 points and seven rebounds for Carson (5-6), but the Cougars also didn’t shoot well. Cougars not named Darius combined to shoot 1-for-16 in a disastrous first half. As poorly as West shot in the first half, it still led 29-16 at halftime.
“I guess it was the gym, the crowd, the atmosphere ó it’s just a big event,” said Carson sophomore Nick Houston, who made three 3-pointers in the second half. “But more than our shooting, it was the rebounding that killed us.”
Carson coach Brian Perry agreed with that assessment and pointed at offensive boards as the key stat. The Falcons beat the Cougars 47-33 on the glass and pulled down 21 offensive rebounds.
“We knew it and we talked about it, but that many offensive rebounds just kills you,” Perry said. “You can’t let West have 12 more shots than you get. West is tall and physical, and they’ll fight for every rebound. They’ll knock you around, push you under the goal, and then you throw in there that they’ve got a couple of inches on you. They’ll miss a shot, but then someone gets a hand on it, and they get to shoot it again.”
West played with 6-foot-7 standout K.J. Sherrill, a Charlotte signee, in constant foul trouble. Sherrill managed a game-high 10 rebounds, but he shot 2-for-11, mostly from pointblank range, and scored a season-low eight points.
“K.J. is driving me crazy,” Gurley said with a sigh. “He thought (Charlotte coach) Bobby Lutz might come tonight, and K.J. is such a good guy he really wanted to play well. He just tried a little too hard to be successful.”
K.J.’s little brother, Keshun, hasn’t hit his growth spurt yet and is about a foot shorter, but he played big with K.J. limited to 12 minutes by foul woes.
“Without K.J., we had to really pick it up as a team,” Keshun said. “Guys had to come in and play hard and put it together. We played good defense, stopped penetration, got out on shooters.”
Senior Kaleb Kimber scored 10 points for West, but it also took him time to adjust to Goodman Gym. Kimber missed his first five attempts before Jon Crucitti, who had a team-high three assists in 15 minutes off the bench, got Kimber going with a slick pass to the right corner late in the second quarter.
Like the rest of the bench, Crucitti had a nice night.
“It’s good to know when guys are in foul trouble we can save ’em and put other guys in there without everything going south,” Gurley said. “Our bench gave us lots of energy.”
West takes on defending champ Salisbury for the title tonight at 8 p.m.
CARSON (51) ó Moose 18, Houston 9, Clanton 7, Doby 7, Ferrare 4, Sewell 4, Britt 2, Wagner, Walser, Barringer, Raper, Begic, Jones, Heggins.
WEST (70) ó Ke.Sherrill 19, K.Kimber 10, J.Kimber 9, K.J. Sherrill 8, Moore 7, Grant 6, Smith 4, Gore 4, Crucitti 2, B.J. Sherrill 1, Wood, Huffman, Cuthbertson, Phifer, Noble.Carson 7 9 16 19 ó 51
West Rowan 11 18 14 27 ó 70